Photography by Irina Luca

After patiently waiting in line for what seemed like an entire season of America’s Next Top Model, we finally got to see the much-ado-about-something collection from celeb creative director Jay Manuel. Although he’s denied ever having the desire to become a fashion designer, an opening film starring Billie Holiday conveyed a different message: Jay Manuel had been waiting for this moment all his life.

So had we. Attitude, the “please be young and funky” collection from mega retailer Sears, has placed on the roster before, but never like this. The brand announced just a month ago that celebrity fashion guru, former make-up artist and host of Canada’s Next Top Model was now the creative director of the label. Needless to say, he had eight-inch heels to fill with the likes of Jeanne Beker (with her own line Edit at the Bay) sitting front row. But, as the blue laminate peeled off to reveal a high gloss, jet black runway and a supersized Jay Manuel in dark sunglasses as snow white hair appeared on the screen with the highest decibel bass – I could only help but think one thing: Karl Lagerfeld has finally come to Canada.

Or was it Yves Saint Laurent? The show opened with two iconic variations of Le Smoking – an all-white version with a wide leg and one button followed by the scuro, black tuxedo, with crisp white shirt – sleeves exposed – and a chunky black tie. Manuel openly admits to his predecessors’ couture influences on the inaugural collection; he is not copying but rather paying homage, like Jean-Luc Godard to Humphrey Bogart. Coat padding extended over the shoulders in McQueen fashion and the handbags, which will also be sold as part of the line, bore a striking resemblance to the coveted (and already much knocked off) PS1. And what’s a fashion party without Missoni? Squeezed in the middle were luscious knit jumpers, in that familiar multi-coloured stripe, paired with snoods and bright cognac tights. Last but not least, models worked the catwalk branded by the signature (Galliano’s) Dior make-up.

As miscellaneous as it sounds, the collection remained cohesive in its classic lines, sexy silhouette, and a strong focus on tailoring, with a strong affinity for outwear. Jackets came long and cropped, tailored, textured, and fur-trimmed. Among my favourites were the black, eyelash fur zip jacket, the Chanel-esque marine blue tweed crop jacket, and the gold buttoned, double-breasted, red utility coat, avidly mentioned over Peronis after the show. What started out in black and white, culminated in a rich spectrum of Moroccan-inspired tones: marine blue, jade, raspberry, dark purple, red and peacock.

With smart brands such as Joe Fresh and now Attitude by Sears by Jay Manuel, the only question left to wonder is how many of the runway pieces will actually appear in stores and how many are just show ponies; the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t of fashion’s lost ephemera. We’ll all have to wait until late August when the line hits stores to find out. All I can say is that I hope the red utility coat makes the cut.